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Preparing Your Garden for Winter: A Checklist

With winter right around the corner, it’s time to wrap up that gardening season and plan for next year!

Preparing your garden for winter is important for protecting all your plants from the harsh winter temperatures and ice. This helps promote a healthy-looking, robust plant in the spring. It’s also crucial for preventing soil erosion and maintaining a structurally sound garden.

Today, we’re going to walk you through the steps you need to take to prepare your garden for winter!


Winter Garden Preparation Checklist: For a Flourishing Spring Garden

1. Clean Up

There’s no way around this but to grab some gardening gloves and a garbage or lawn clippings bag and get to work cleaning. Once the fall leaves start to fall and breezy winds blow through on those crisp autumn days, your garden will need a big pick me up.

  • First, remove all leaves, fallen branches, and other debris that are covering your gardens.
  • Second, remove all annual plants starting to fade, as once the first frost hits, it’s harder to pull them up.
  • Lastly, make sure you are disposing of your debris correctly. You can do this by composting the correct materials, burning leaves and branches safely, or placing them in the proper garbage containers and leaving them at the curb.

2. Pruning

Once you have your annuals removed and you have a clean slate regarding any fallen debris, it’s time to give some attention to the perennials growing in your gardens. This could be anything from roses to daisies to different types of shrubs.

During the summer, we tend to give these a once over and let them continue to grow and thrive, but once the weather turns, it’s time to prepare for winter.

  • First, grab some sharp, clean pruning shears, and any overgrown perennials can get cut back. Most flowering perennials can get cut back about an inch from the root once the temperatures drop, as they will fully regrow during the following spring.
  • There are instances where you may want to leave your perennials alone for the winter season. A great example of this is ornamental grasses and shrubs. These are great at protecting nature’s little creatures during the upcoming months and still provide good curb appeal.
  • If you’re unsure if a perennial needs to be pruned or how it’s done, research beforehand to know exactly what to do for the plant’s health.

3. Mulching

After pruning back the perennials, it’s time to add a fresh layer of mulch to protect any of the leftover roots and stems. By adding just a thin layer of mulch, you are adding an extra “blanket” to protect your plants from frost and ice that could kill them before spring. This is a crucial step in winter garden preparation.

  • Apply a generous amount of mulching to all of your garden beds.
  • Apply mulch to your vegetable garden beds as well, as this helps prevent any soil erosion, which not only damages your beds but has you buying more dirt at the garden center next spring.

4. Protecting Perennials

Mulching can help protect your perennials, but there are a few cases where you need to add an extra layer of winter protection. This includes, but is not limited to, tender vining plants, delicate rose varieties, and tropicals.

  • If you have delicate perennials and live in an area with freezing weather, you’ll want to invest in some frost cloth or insulated covers to protect the plant entirely.
  • You’ll also need to insulate or bring potted plants indoors as there is little protection created from the pot, and they have a high risk of blowing over in winter storms.
  • This may be a good time to invest in a plant shelter or greenhouse. There are tons of options available with all kinds of price points that can keep potted or movable plants safe from frigid temperatures and wind.

5. Garden Tools

Once the plants are in order, it’s time to focus on all those gardening tools that are tossed about in the corner of your shed or garage. It’s alright; we do it too. But preparing your garden for winter is the perfect time to tackle this task that keeps getting put off.

  • It’s a good idea to clean off any dirt and debris stuck on your tools to have a clean slate come spring.
  • Organize your tools so that they are easy to find and not in the way of any other gardening materials you may need to pull out next spring.
  • If you have irrigation systems, this is the time you should drain and winterize them before the first freeze. If you do not, you’re at risk of the pipes cracking, which is going to cost you money and a big headache come summer.
  • Make those minor repairs. Fixing the trellis or fence prevents the damage from worsening over the winter, saving you time in the spring.

6. Garden Planning

Last but not least, it’s time to think about planning next year’s garden. With the growing season still freshly in your mind, it’s great to get a plan started for next year.

  • Develop a plan on paper of where to plant specific plants, if some did well in a particular spot or if others did not.
  • Research new varieties and order or pre-order different plants and seeds. The best place to do so is at Nature Hills Nursery. Not only do they have the best selection, they tend to run their sales at the end of the year!
  • Design new garden beds, plan out new irrigation systems, or new garden structures like fencing and trellises.

Wrapping Up Your Ultimate Winter Garden Checklist

With the weather cooling down, it’s essential to begin your garden winter preparations sooner rather than later. Of course, you could let your garden go and let nature take its course, but this will cause a big mess and cost you more time and money next spring.

By following this winter garden preparation checklist, you’ll be sure to have a flourishing garden come spring. You may need to do some sprucing, but you’ll spend much more time enjoying your garden than years before.

Are you thinking of trying your hand at some winter gardening? Check out our top picks for greenhouse kits. You may just be able to extend your hobby all year!